Fredi M. Murer
With an I.Q. so high that it’s incalculable, at age six, Vitus Van Holzen (Fabrizio Bursani) is pulled out of kindergarten. His overwhelmingly intimidating mental capability is one thing but it seems his social skills may have been the major culprit as his instructor tells his British mother (Julika Jenkins) that instead of tackling typical children’s books, young Vitus was reading about global warming and scaring the life out of his classmates.
While the world may not be ready for Vitus, his mother and father (Urs Jucker) have other plans for their son and in promoting his self-education, they begin focusing wholeheartedly on his innate musical ability by bouncing the young piano prodigy from teacher to teacher in his readiness quest for concerto perfection. When asked which career he’d like to tackle as an adult, Vitus doesn’t have a concrete answer yet he seems to have an interest in becoming a vet that goes against his parents strict wishes for greatness. With the guidance of his gentle, supportive grandpa (Bruno Ganz) who-- much like Vitus-- is an equally adventurous dreamer, Vitus grows to rebel against his parents at age twelve (now played by Teo Gheorghiu) as he focuses his attention to stock market revenge and securing the Tina Turner singing babysitter of his dreams while coming-of-age his own way. His decisions on getting by according to his own rules become all the more important when he’s enrolled back in school and, instead of global warming terror, seems to delight in disrupting lessons by making his teachers look incompetent.
Winner of the top prize in its native Switzerland, director Fredi M. Murer’s delightfully quirky film was the country’s official Oscar submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category. Unfortunately, film, much like the music Vitus plays on his trusty piano, depends on rhythm and pitch and Fredi M. Murer’s movie begins to unravel during its second half as the tone changes and the plot goes in an entirely different direction. In doing, so the audience is given little preparation for Vitus’s shift in priorities that come into question as his schemes get harder to believe, making the two hour running time feel much longer and allowing the melody of Murer’s cinematic music to fall completely out of tune as I felt that Vitus the film was in desperate need of one of the hearing aids Vitus’s inventor father makes for a living. Although the notes begin to falter, the film seems to gain its second wind for a stirring coda that manages to reward both the audience and its pitch perfect cast with an earned and truly uplifting finale.